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Cancelled: A Focused Foundation: School Design + Construction Planning

March 31, 2020 - April 1, 2020


***This event has been cancelled***


This two-day joint conference, hosted by AIA Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania School Board Association (PSBA), brings architects and school leaders together for conversation and learning on project management, energy-efficient and healthy design, finances and funding, school safety and security, and best practices for K-12 construction. The conference will have four learning tracks available for attendees to choose from. Brief descriptions of each track are outlined below.



Tuesday March 31, 2020 

Facilities tours with industry experts, 4:00 p.m.

Join architectural firm Crabtree Rohrbaugh & Associates and Penn Manor School District representatives for a tour of Penn Manor High School in Millersville, PA, about 15 minutes from the Lancaster Marriott. Built in the 1950s and partially renovated beginning in 1994, Penn Manor High School is undergoing a major renovation and construction project to assure it can adequately meet current and future educational needs.

Following the Penn Manor tour, return to the Lancaster Marriott for a reception and an opportunity to take a engage in a walking tour of historic Lancaster City with Greg Scott from RLPS Architects.

Historic Lancaster walking tour, 6:00 pm

Historic Lancaster City was founded in 1730 and laid out by colonist James Hamilton. Lancaster was the largest inland settlement west of Philadelphia and described as “the gateway to the frontier.” Almost three centuries later, the city is a living museum of more than two dozen architectural styles including Georgian, Federal, Germanic, Queen Anne, French Baroque, Italian Renaissance Chateauesque and Beaux Art, to name a few. The mile-and-a-half tour will include at least 22 examples of these diverse architectural styles.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Hear about the “forgotten story” and national significance of the Lancaster Treaty of 1744 that adjourned 32 years to the day before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The description of the historic courthouse, the proceedings and the outcome of the negotiations will be remembered forever.
  2. Learn about Lancaster’s preeminent 19th- and 20th-century architect C. Emlen Urban. This self-taught native Lancastrian single-handedly introduced the city to 20 architectural styles in and around the center of the city; more than 40 still exist within a two-block radius.
  3. Be introduced to Lancaster’s most controversial architect of the 19th century, James H. Warner. This London-born architect arrived in Lancaster City at the age of 23 and quickly rose in stature and notoriety to become the “architect of choice” for many of Lancaster’s most beautiful buildings. Learn why his good standing and fame came to a screeching halt after a brief 10-year sprint!
  4. Learn how Lancaster City is finally recovering from the massive “de-construction” initiative of the mid-1960s authored by Austrian architect Victor Gruen. His “vision for the future” destroyed more than 926 structures and displaced more than 1,100 families.

Wednesday April 1, 2020

8:00 a.m. – 8:45 a.m. — Breakfast

8:45 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. — Welcome and General Session: Building Safe and Secure Schools of the Future
Panel discussion about school design and construction planning that focuses on these key topics:

  • Vetting contractors
  • Roles and responsibilities of the team
  • Process
  • Community involvement


  • Architect: Mike Kelly, principal, KCBA Architects
  • Business Manager: Kurt Rohrbaugh, director of business affairs, Dallastown Area SD
  • Superintendent: Dr. Bob O’Donnell, superintendent, State College Area School District
  • School Board Directors: Dr. Rich Frerichs, school director, Penn Manor Area School District and Amber Concepcion, board president, State College Area School District

10:15 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. — Educational Session 1 | Track Options:

  • Reuse or Reconstruct – Vern McKissick, McKissick Associates
  • Energy Savings & Healthy Schools – Dr. Erica Cochran, Carnegie Mellon University, and Marc Mondor, managing principal and cofounder, evolveEA
  • Financing & Construction Best Practices – John Beddia, principal, managing partner, director of operations, Crabtree Rohrbaugh & Associates
  • School Safety & Security – School Safety and Security Committee – Mike Kelly, principal, KCBA Architects

11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. — Exhibitors

12:00 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. — Lunch – assigned seats for table discussions

12:30 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.  — Keynote | Svigals + Partners

Holistic Design for Healthy Communities: Supporting Schools and Communities through Design and Creative Engagement”

Keynote speakers Alana Konefal, associate, and Marissa Mead, director of art integration — both of Svigals + Partners — will highlight the importance of incorporating community engagement and strategic design into school construction projects. Svigals + Partners gained valuable experience in this arena when they worked with the community in Newtown, Connecticut to envision a revitalized Sandy Hook Elementary School.

1:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. — Educational Session 2 | Track Options:

  • Reuse or Reconstruct – Kendra McQuilton, chief executive officer, and David Newman, vice president, engineering, The ECG Group
  • Energy Savings & Healthy Schools – Vern McKissick, owner, McKissick Associates
  • Financing & Construction Best Practices – John Callahan, chief advocacy officer, PSBA, on PlanCon
  • School Safety & Security – Lindsay Busko, PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency

3:15 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. — Educational Session 3 | Track Options:

  • Reuse or Reconstruct – Chris Linkey, partner, RLPS Architects
  • Energy Savings & Healthy Schools – Jeff Straub, principal, Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates
  • Financing & Construction Best Practices – Mike Willis, director of business & support services, and Mike Gossert, school board director, Cumberland Valley School District
  • School Safety & Security – Trooper Kevin Jancewicz, PA State Police RVAT teams

4:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. — Closing reception and distribution of swag bags.



Reuse or Reconstruct

A large facilities/capital project is a risky and potentially contentious decision for any school board and superintendent. Similarly, a school project is a large commitment for any firm who becomes a partner in it. This track will explore the implications of decision-making when a district has major facilities work that is necessary but is considering whether to renovate or build. What expectations should firms and districts have? What is the role of community input and public relations? How can districts understand the short- and long-term ramifications of a renovation project versus a new build? Expertise on outcomes and process can inform these decisions.

Energy Savings & Healthy Schools

The health of school facilities can have a direct impact on the health of students, staff and visitors, and on the environment. This track will explore environmentally friendly choices for constructing or renovating “green” schools with a focus on efficiency in heating, cooling, energy use and lighting, as well as the use of recycled materials. Discuss alternative energy sources such as geothermal systems and solar panels. Also, consider options for awareness and removal of hazardous elements in the school environment, such as asbestos, lead, volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), mold, and other potentially harmful chemicals or elements.

Financing & Construction Best Practices

Presenters in this track will offer best practices in financial, relational and legal considerations impacting the construction process from start to finish. Learn more about financial planning and feasibility studies, including considerations for the impact of potential tax increases or referendum. Hear the latest on PlanCon, the process by which schools can apply for reimbursement from the commonwealth for construction projects. Experts will also address ways school leaders and architects, engineers and contractors can build positive relationships with each other and communicate effectively with members of the community. What questions should districts ask when researching and vetting architects and contractors? Take a fresh look at the contractual and legal requirements that must be met by all parties.

School Safety and Security

The physical safety of students, school staff and visitors is of paramount importance. In this track, presenters will discuss key safety and security considerations when constructing or renovating schools. How can design be both welcoming and safety-conscious? Learn how school leaders can coordinate with architects, contractors, local law enforcement and emergency responders to tour and inspect school facilities and complete modifications to ensure greater security. Identify recommended resources to assess school safety and security, and grant opportunities to fund improvements.



AIA Members: Registration is $50 for AIA members. 

Register at https://www.psba.org/aia-focused-foundation-registration/

PSBA Members: Registration is $50 for PSBA members. 

Discount for All Access members applied at checkout. To register, log into myPSBA.



Overnight room block reserved at the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square

Book your reservation: https://www.psba.org/marriott-room-block

Cutoff Date: 3/10/20

Register >

Thank you to our Conference Boosters!

Thank you to our Conference Supporters!


March 31, 2020
April 1, 2020
Event Categories:


Lancaster Marriott and Convention Center
25 S Queen Street
Lancaster, PA 17603 United States
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